Board Chair on Resignation: ‘I Was Attacked’

Board Chair on Resignation: ‘I Was Attacked’

Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees Chairwoman Carol Jelaco during the school board meeting June 10. SweetwaterNOW photo by David Martin

Clarification: This article was updated to reflect board member Cole Wright’s comments about not joining Sweetwater County School District No. 1’s Board of Trustees to serve as a rubber stamp to the superintendent.

ROCK SPRINGS – The Sweetwater County School District No.1 Board of Trustees chairwoman Carol Jelaco called the allegations made in a board resignation an attack and chastised local media for not reaching out to her for her side of the story.

SweetwaterNOW approached the school board during the public comment and question portion of the meeting asking for the school board and district’s response to allegations made in former board member Kari Cochran’s resignation letter related to experiences she had while on the board. SweetwaterNOW had reached out for comment from the district last week, with an interview scheduled through Superintendent Kelly McGovern’s administrative assistant for the morning of June 5. McGovern was to contact SweetwaterNOW at her convenience, but further communication from the district did not occur.

Advertisement - Story continues below...

Jelaco read from a written statement, taking issue with local media publishing content from Cochran’s resignation letter without contacting her and when informed about the interview SweetwaterNOW had set up with McGovern, informed SweetwaterNOW the publication still didn’t contact her. Two residents in the audience told Jelaco it was her chance to respond to the allegations with Jelaco initially calling the letter an attack. She later defended the board’s transparency saying the board has had more open and in-public conversation than any other board she has served on.

“I will just say, as I said in my statement, those allegations are very one sided and I will speak for myself. I was not approached by any entity for my side of the story, and I believe that side of the story should have appeared along with the allegations so they can be compared in the same article,” Jelaco said. “Personally, it was an attack.”

After the meeting, Jelaco further spoke with SweetwaterNOW, saying she feels as though she has been defamed by every publication in the county. She said the time to ask questions regarding Cochran’s resignation was last week. As of now, she wants to focus on positive happenings in the district, such as the arrival of the new superintendent and the work to build a new Rock Springs High School.

Other board members thanked Cochran for her service. Board member Cole Wright addressed issues Cochran mentioned such as her views about the district’s lack of transparency and the allegation of rubber-stamping items for McGovern.

“I will again speak for myself that I did not join the board or run for the board to rubber stamp things,” Wright said.

While he admits he can’t speak for Cochran’s experience, he said the district’s recent five-year plan includes aspects he believes will improve both communication and transparency.

“We as a team know what needs to be worked on,” he said.

Board member Danielle Schumacher said it’s hard to understand a situation when only one side of a story is presented. She said change does not happen overnight and believes positive progress is being made within the district.

“It’s sad to see her go,” Schumacher said.